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Winterizing your Lawn

Preparing your lawn for the long winter ahead.

magical-239x300The leaves are changing, the air is growing cold, and the days are getting shorter. Autumn is here in full effect and winter is not far off, so it must be time to pack up the lawn mower, right? Not just yet! There are a few things you should do to make sure your lawn is ready for the winter. As a bonus, everything you do now will make next spring’s growing season that much more rewarding! To help prepare your lawn, we’re going to look at:

  • Checking your lawn’s pH level

  • Aerating your lawn

  • Properly putting away your lawn mower

The importance of pH

Having a lawn with an unbalanced pH level is going to give you nothing but headaches next spring.Luckily, now is the perfect time to correct any pH problems you may be having! It’s easy and anyone can do it. To check your lawn’s pH, bring a coffee can sized sample of your lawn’s dirt to any Koopman Lumber (not including our Koopman Paint stores) location, and we’ll test it for free! Ideally, you’re looking for the results of the pH test to be between 6.0-6.7. This is the perfect range for grass to grow. If your pH levels are too low (below 6.0), you should apply Jonathan Green Mag-I-Cal calcium fertilizer. Mag-I-Cal is a soluble form of calcium which rapidly releases nutrients into the soil, and is guaranteed to work faster than lime. If your pH levels are too high (above a 6.7), treat your lawn with sulfur at the recommended rate.

Many states have laws prohibiting application of fertilizer after a specific date, so make sure to check with your state government for potential blackout dates.

Aerating your lawn: Why and how?

As your soil sits there, year after year, it begins to get compacted. Between people walking over it, vehicles and lawn care equipment driving over it, and plain old gravity, your lawn is constantly being pressed down. Aerating it will help break up the soil, allowing better flow of water and air to the roots of your grass. If you’ve been having a hard time getting your grass to grow evenly, then aerating is for you!

There are two types of aeration: spike and plug. In our opinion, plug is the most effective method and certainly the most common, so that is the one we’re going to talk about today. Plug aerators remove small plugs of grass from your lawn. You’ll want to get a machine with plugs about 2-3 inches deep, and 0.5 inches in diameter. If you don’t have an aerator of your own, Koopman has you covered!  Swing by our Uxbridge or Grafton location and pick one up at Koopman Rentals!

To begin the aerating process you will need to soak your lawn the day before. To soak your lawn, cover it in about an inch of water, and let it sit overnight. The next day bring out your aerator and fire it up. Make several passes over your lawn, giving special attention to areas with browning or patchy grass. Let the plugs sit on your lawn for a few days and dry out, and then run your lawn mower over your yard. This last step is mostly to help your lawn aesthetically, because a bunch of dirt plugs sitting on your lawn looks even worse than it sounds!

dirt-plugs

Packing up your mower

As the temperatures get colder, many people stop mowing their lawn a little bit too soon. There is only one sure-fire way to tell that your lawn doesn’t need to be mowed anymore: it’s stopped growing. Once your lawn reaches this point, lower your lawn mower blades about half an inch and give it a final cut. This will help your grass survive the winter, and help prevent early spring diseases from melting snow.

Pictured: A lawnmower spark plug

Pictured: A lawnmower spark plug

After your final cut, it’s time to say goodbye to your trusty mower. If you’re only storing your lawn mower for a single winter, then you will need to get some fuel stabilizer to add to your tank. This helps prevent the breaking down of ethanol and the release of gum and varnish into your engine. If you’re storing the mower for longer than 12 months, drain the gas tank and run the engine until it dies. When you’ve finished with the gasoline, remove the spark plug on your mower, add a little oil into its socket, and then replace the plug.

Now it’s time to make sure all your moving parts will be in top shape for next spring. Start by wiping down the outside of the mower, and the underside of the deck. You will probably need to use a chisel-like instrument to take off the crust of grass and other debris that will be stuck to the deck. Then you will need to sharpen your mower’s blade. You can either do this yourself, or have a professional do it for you. The final thing to do is to replace the oil in your machine. We recommend replacing it now instead of just draining it. Forgetting to refill your oil in the spring can give you some nasty problems!

 

These year-end tips can really make a difference in your lawn’s overall health. Following them will make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood! Our employees here at Koopman Lumber are experts in year end lawn care, and have the knowledge and tools to make sure your lawn is the best it can be, so come down and see us for all your year end needs! Be sure to stop by the Koopman Power Shop at our Uxbridge location if you want advice or just don’t have time to winterize your mower yourself and want some help. That’s what we’re here for. Our friendly tech will get that done in a jiff and have your mower ready for the winter!

 

Sources:

http://www.hgtvgardens.com/lawns/lawn-patrol-take-the-ph-test

http://www.briggsandstratton.com/us/en/support/maintenance-how-to/lawn-care/aeration-why-how-and-when-to-aerate-your-lawn

http://blog.onebyoneselfstorage.com/preparing-your-lawn-mower-for-winter-storage/

Photo Credits:

Jonathangreen.com

Oneprojectcloser.com